Taking a Fast Raft on Monterey Bay

It's a low-to-the-water ocean experience. What will you see from there?

Fast Raft

ABOVE THE WATER: Being out over the Pacific is always a pleasure. Seeing it from the window of a plane? The little rocks and islands look so wee. Seeing it from a hang glider? Probably pretty epic (we can just speak from watching documentaries, not the act itself, of course). Seeing the water from a big boat? Very nice, and should a group of dolphins swim alongside you have a balcony-type view from the railing above. But what of being practically one with the water, without being *in* the water? That's a bit trickier. Sure, you could find a submarine, but we don't think there are too many of those around, awaiting the whims of day-trippers. Or you could go swimming, but maybe you don't want to actually get fully wet. The best answer, then for extreme water surface closeness without donning your swimsuit is heading out on a fast raft at Fast Raft, a new addition to the Monterey Bay boating scene.

ABOUT FAST RAFT: We said "new" before but the raft has been out on the waves near Monterey for a few months now. You'll be riding Ranger, a "33-ft Rigid Inflatable," out into Monterey Bay Sanctuary. The company refers to their tours as eco tours, and Ranger's engines back that up: They're EPA-certified Mercury engines. Another interesting tidbit is that "Ranger is the only civilian-owned PT1000 in the country." A half-dozen people can board the inflatable, so call this a good group activity, especially if those in your party like keeping watch for seals or otters or gulls or the other beasties that call the Bay home. Tours start at $60 - that's an hour at midday -- and go to $140, for the longer morning and afternoon tours. So, why not get close to the water? So many of us have been far above it and far below it, but rarely right at the surface. Call it a new way of seeing. Or, er, sea-ing, if you prefer.

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